I wrote this yesterday to a young artist who was worried about measuring up at the Whitechapel art forums, and it sounded like I kind of knew what I was talking about, so I thought I'd share it here:
"Overall, it goes back to one of Warren's old mainstays for here; "There is no crying in Whitechapel", which means just bring your best stuff, be honest and committed to it, and don't whine.
All of us have felt "outclassed" by something here, and complaining about it gets boring, so better to put your energy into getting your game up to the level you wish it to be. It took me a few years to really hit a level I felt I could even feel good about here with the possibility of someone like Mike Weiringo showing up and owning the entire thread.
The "No piss-takes" rule is also in the same vein; we're all here to see good stuff, so bringing something that is obviously half-assed or was slapped together with little thought is a piss-take, and it wastes both our (the viewers) and your time. Again, better your time is spent on a good piece of art or getting better for your next entry. I literally used this place as boot camp, knowing that I could do comics and art, but needing a drill instructor to say "Okay, now 20 more, soldier!"
Looking back, some of my first REMAKE pieces were utter crap. But I kept coming back, kept getting schooled by some really good artists, and eventually I started making stuff that I knew was my best work (not the best in the thread, but best for me) and it was a great kick in the ass. I had been deafened by the echo chamber that some online art communities can become (OH, YOU'RE AWESOME LOL) and now had to deal with the open, stony silence that can be a forum like this, where people of incredible taste actually have an informed opinion, and give praise when deserved. Sure, there is good natured barbing and hassle, but the end goal was the same: show me something that excites my eyes and brain. Warren demanded it, I know Si demands it, and it's something we should all demand of ourselves, be it here in the REMAKE thread, or a photo thread, a story thread, fiction thread, wherever. This place keeps me coming back because I feel I have to bring my good game, art and brain-wise, and keeps me sharp and frosty and constantly challenging myself.
I don't know that I'll "hit" every time (and I'll save you the suspense; I will fuck up PLENTY), but I will keep getting better, because it feels really good to keep getting better, and I love seeing people here evolve into amazing artists, storytellers or whatever. This board loves new blood, so put on some big person pants and join in the drill. You obviously are interested, so give yourself some time to find your footing and really show what your best work is. You'll (and we'll) know when it happens.
Whatever age it happens, learning the reason you do art (or any creative thing) is paramount. If it's for money, for fame, for revenge, all good, but it needs to be your reason and make sense to you. I've found only dead ends when I've attempted to manufacture reasons to continue to improve as an artist. Simple baseline is; you've just got to want it, and be willing to find ways to keep wanting it. But you've also got to be willing to risk it a bit, to put it out there and let it be exposed to the elements and be strengthened by that exposure. THAT is one of the harder things a young artist has to learn; self confidence, and where to keep finding it. Self confidence doesn't come from unending praise, it comes from earned praise."